County Councillors have reacted with dismay to reports that ticketing on the Windermere Ferry is continuing to be a huge cause for concern for residents and visitors, leading to delays and tailbacks during peak periods and having a major knock-on effect for local businesses and tourist attractions on both sides of the lake.
In response to a long-running campaign led by Councillor Ben Berry, Cumbria County Council recently admitted there were ongoing problems with the new ticketing machines and agreed to make improvements. However, queues of traffic are continuing to build up as ferry users struggle to get to grips with the ticketing system, causing frustration and anger for users and potentially jeopardising the viability of the popular service.
At a recent meeting of Hawkshead Parish Council, National Trust representatives voiced concern that the ongoing issues were behind a significant reduction in visitors to its Hill Top property, Beatrix Potter’s 17th-century farmhouse in the village of Near Sawrey, because of a drop in the ferry service from three to two trips per hour since the introduction of new ticketing machines.
Matt Brereton, Conservative County Councillor for High Furness, which includes Hawkshead and the villages of Near and Far Sawrey, said: “It beggars belief that the Council is so determined to stick with the new ticketing machines in the face of all evidence that they are proving very unpopular with users and potentially damaging the economy of the area, especially businesses on the western side of Windermere, which is quite an obstacle for people to drive round when faced with unacceptable queues and delays on the ferry.”
“If drivers do decide to take the long way round instead of hopping on the ferry, then of course that has a serious knock-on effect on our already busy local roads, and certainly isn't a sustainable solution.”
“Much is being done by the National Trust and other local stakeholders to improve access to the western side of the lake for the benefit of locals and visitors alike. With so much being done to improve connectivity, including putting on shuttle buses and encouraging users to visit on foot or cycle, the Council needs to act immediately to stop anything which undermines the viability of the ferry and puts unnecessary additional pressure on the existing road network, which is seriously over capacity.”
“This undemocratic Liberal Democrats and Labour coalition in Cumbria County Council need to face up to decisions taken in haste and accept mistakes have been made; the 'if it it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach we've seen to date won't wash with local residents and business owners who simply want to know why the current administration refuses to returning things to the way they were, which may not have been perfect but certainly worked better than the current dysfunctional arrangements.”